Donald Trump recently hiredf Rick Wiley, the longtime GOP political strategist who managed Gov. Scott Walker’s short-lived presidential campaign, to serve as his political director.
“Rick is a seasoned political expert with a very successful career in winning elections,” Trump said in a statement. “He brings decades of experience, and his deep ties to political leaders and activists across the country will be a tremendous asset as we enter the final phase of securing the nomination.”
Wisconsin Republicans held Wiley responsible for the Walker campaign’s failure. Donors complained about Wiley’s extravagant operations, which employed 90 staffers, including a full-time photographer and costly consultants.
Shortly before Walker shut down his campaign due to lack of funding, he was spending $90,000 a day.
Walker’s chief apologist, right-wing talk radio star Charlie Sykes, lambasted Wiley for mishandling the governor.
“If the world was either fair or rational, Rick Wiley would never again work in politics,” Sykes wrote in a column, adding, “But, trust me, he will.”
And, he is.
Ironically, Sykes’ dislike of Trump helped doom the candidate in Wisconsin. Sykes raked him across the coals in a scathing radio interview that was replayed all over the nation via the internet.
Political observers see Trump’s hiring of Wiley as an attempt to establish the kind of field operations needed to identify and turn out GOP voters. The lack of such conventional operations contributed to Trump’s recent lopsided loss in Wisconsin, as well as his disappointing results in Colorado and Louisiana, where Ted Cruz’s more experienced campaign wrangled delegates away from Trump.
Although Trump has responded by attacking the Republican nominating process as inherently unfair, at the same time he’s been working to pull together a more seasoned crew who can save him from the pratfalls he’s taken repeatedly due to lack of experience.
Wiley is also well connected to the GOP establishment, which has shunned Trump. Wiley formerly served as political director for the Republican National Committee and worked on Mitt Romney’s campaign and George W. Bush’s re-election bid.
In addition to hiring Wiley, Trump has stepped up the role of his convention manager Paul Manafort. It’s unclear what role campaign manager Corey Lewandowski will play in the future of Trump’s presidential bid.
Lewandowski hurt Trump’s campaign when he was arrested for battery concerning an alleged assault on former Breitbart reporter Michelle Fields. The assault was captured on a surveillance camera and widely viewed on the web.
Once it would have seemed unlikely to read Trump’s and Walker’s names in the same sentence.
When Walker withdrew from the GOP presidential race last September, he urged other GOP candidates to follow suit in order to give the party a chance to coalesce around a suitable candidate other than Trump.
During a rally in Janesville just two weeks ago, Trump blasted Walker’s poor handling of Wisconsin’s economy, which lags the rest of the region.
Walker endorsed Ted Cruz shortly before the Wisconsin presidential primary election. Cruz won that race
But Trump recently told USA Today that he would consider Walker as a possible running mate.
“I like Walker actually in a lot of ways,” Trump told the newspaper. “I hit him very hard. … But I’ve always liked him. There are people I like, but I don’t think they like me because I have hit them hard.”
Walker said he was “shocked” by the article, but he declined to rule out the possibility of running as Trump’s vice president.
Walker has not ruled out a possible run as Cruz’s vice president either.